Callum – 12 October 2018

Well, he didn’t stay long did he. Although he did knock down two of our bins on the road out.

I think we were in a neat little pocket of still air while Storm Callum was bustling about all around us. Nice of him to topple our garden rubbish bin and our recycling bin as he left. He did drop a lot of rain though. It started about midday, just as I was heading out to meet Fred and I think it’s still raining yet at just before 10.30pm. What’s more, there’s a second, even heavier lot ready and waiting for us tomorrow. Oh what fun. And we were worried that there might be a drought during the summer. We were praying that they wouldn’t have a hosepipe ban! Now we’re more worried about flash floods.

The rain didn’t stop Fred and I meeting to set the world to rights as we sometimes have to do just before the weekend. Even Val made it for half an hour or so. While I was waiting for them, I thought I’d fill in the time and the last page of my sketchbook with a little drawing of the bloke sitting at the next table. He had his back to me as he read the paper, so there was little chance of him objecting to being my model for the day. Unfortunately, there are few interesting features on the back of a person’s head, so it was a bit of a dull sketch. So dull in fact that I forgot to sign it, so that was done on a separate sheet and pasted on in Photoshop. Yes, I could have done it in ON1, but that would have taken at least an hour and Photoshop’s so much easier when you’ve been using it for a while.

Drove home accompanied by a high pitched squeal from the car. The rain was torrential at the time and I’d nowhere to stop, so I soldiered on and it suddenly stopped. As the wipers were on full at the time, trying to clear the windscreen and the cavity where their motor sits was full of leaves, I suspect that’s what was causing the squeal. The mashed up leaves I found in the cavity when I got home seemed to bear out that theory, but I’ll keep a listening ear out for strange noises for the next few days.

Scamp made Chicken Curry for dinner and I made flatbread, saltless flatbread (by accident). Tasted strange, was perfectly edible.

Today’s PoD is ‘Flooers’, never a good sign. Other than raindrops running down the window (and I’ve done that already) there wasn’t much more I could do. I liked the close-up, almost macro shot of the anthers and stigma look really alien.

Hoping to get the bus in to Glasgow tomorrow to go for lunch in the rain!

Ballroom Dancing – 7 October 2018

I was sure this wasn’t going to be the highlight of my day

That is to say, I wasn’t looking forward to it … at all! The weather when we woke was wet and a bit windy, but I’d rather have gone for a walk in the windy rain than go dancing ballroom. Yes, I know that’s what we’ve been learning Jive, Waltz, Quickstep and Tango for, but I just had the feeling it would be a big dance floor filled with critical, snooty oldies. The reality was somewhat like that, but also totally different.

Starting from the top. We’d recorded the Japanese GP from Suzuka, one of my favourite tracks and for once it was full of thrills and spills. Great to see Vettel getting spun off the track by Verstappen. He’s young, V, and a bit of a nutter, but he made short work of a four times world champion who tried to muscle in front of him. Well done to you Mad Max. I really enjoyed the race and for a couple of hours it put dancing to the back of my mind.

PoD was a view of raindrops running down the front window. Not the most interesting of photos, perhaps, but I wasn’t going out in that rainstorm just to get a better photo and another dose of the cold to boot.

After lunch I did today’s sketch which was of two of Scamp’s boots lying under the coffee table. Not very imaginative, but there was more observation and sketching in it than in the last six added together. I liked the finished drawing. Let’s hope it’s the start of some better work.

It had to come. Just before 3pm I got washed, shaved and dressed for the dancing. Checked the postcode of the place we were going and wrote it down, lest I might (on purpose) forget it. We drove through the torrential rain to the hotel, only to find that there was no room to park, so I dropped Scamp off and went in search of a decent space in one of the side streets. We’d been allocated a table with some other folk. I think they were the ones nobody else wanted to sit beside. They weren’t that old, but they did tick the ‘Critical’ and ‘Snooty’ boxes. Basically the table I was dreading. We’d ordered food and when it came it was really good. Fish ’n’ Chips for Scamp and Steak Pie for me. Mine needed some salt, but otherwise was excellent. Scamp’s seemed to suit her too. Then we manage to spirit ourselves away from Critical & Snooty. One of Scamp’s salsa friends had already had a run in with C&S and invited us to sit at her table. It was full of older women, but they smiled and made conversation with us, so we’d won a watch. The music started and some folk got up to dance. Scamp nudged me and we joined them, demonstration our 7 Spins Skills. That was better, we’d been on the floor. After that, Michael or his feminine persona took to the stage in a full length glittering golden gown. The floor show had begun.

It was a great show. Against my better judgement I laughed out loud at his antics and the costumes were amazing, starting with a fantastic Frank N Furter. Between each of his sets were a couple of dances. No waltz or tango and the quickstep was too quick for me. Lots of line dances (yuk!) and jive. We even managed a couple of salsa dances to what was really rock ’n’ roll music. The finale was his on-stage change from Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B. This was followed by a high energy routine with an unrecognisable Ann Marie to that Glen Millar tune. Overall a great night. I needn’t have worried, but if it hadn’t been for Scamp’s pal inviting us to her table, it might have gone very differently. Would we go again? Yes, probably, but maybe not for a while. Drove home through more wind and rain, happy to rely on the sat nav to find the right road.

Tomorrow is Gems day so I may go to the gym.

Zoomers Day – 28 September 2018

Some days it seems like all the zoomers are out. Today was one of those days.

We were undecided where to go today but we finally settled on Glasgow. That’s when we met the first zoomer. We were driving up the hill to go on the motorway and the zoomer came screaming up behind us trying his level best to get in the Juke’s boot. Wasn’t going to happen though. It’s a 30mph zone and I was doing a steady 30, good law abiding citizen that I am. Then he started weaving from side to side. He’d been watching too much F1 and thought he was Lewis Hamilton trying to warm up his tyres. Either that or he was hoping to hurry me along. He obviously hasn’t heard the auld guy’s rule “The closer you come, the slower I go.” He wasn’t even driving a fancy car, it was a chemist’s delivery van for a Glenboig chemist. Best bit was when he stopped at the red light, not realising that the red is really for those turning right. He was heading straight on. It wasn’t until the drivers behind started sounding their horns that he saw the green filter lane light and drove on.

In Glasgow we met zoomer number two. He was a complete nutter. I signalled to move left into a filter lane, but he wasn’t having it. He was in that lane, it was his lane and he wasn’t giving it up. Stuff that. I accelerated, so did he, but I was quicker and nipped in in front of him. Oh he didn’t like that. He gave up on trying to cut me up as I turned left at the next lights, then undertook me to get in front of me before the next ones. He was smiling as I drove behind him, but I changed lanes and gave him a cheery toot as I passed him. He was in the wrong lane, stuck behind three cars and a bus waiting to turn right at the lights and I had a clear road ahead. A simple beginner’s mistake on his part. Perhaps he’ll learn, but I don’t think so. As we sailed past him I distinctly saw that angry little black monkey sitting on his shoulder, whispering in his ear. So nice to see them together, they deserve each other.

We went in to JL and Scamp quickly got exactly what she was looking for while I ogled the Big Boy’s Toys in the photography section. Then she decided to go look in Next and I went to practise sketching Buchanan Galleries. Inktober starts on Monday and I need lots of practise.

Once we met up, we went for a really poor excuse for a coffee in Nero at the Galleries. They have one more chance to up their game and then they get dropped. Almost Cumbernauld Costa quality they were producing. Burnt water blend.

Drove home without mishap and without meeting any more zoomers. Decided it was warm enough to go cycling if I had enough layers on. Made not a bad fist of fighting my way through the mad (not ‘zoomer’) drivers heading home early from work and did a bit of off road cycling. While I was out in the wilderness I heard the note of a small turboprop plane and guessed it was my favourite aircraft the Piaggio P180. A small 11 seater canard (an aircraft with horizontal stabilising and control surfaces in front of the wing). You can usually hear them long before you see them, but I still had to set up my camera properly to catch this small fast plane and that’s why I tried to jump a fallen tree and tangled my leg in a long bramble stem which is the reason that I’m smelling of TCP right now and have long scratches down my calves. I got the photo, though and that’s the main thing as any photog will tell you. It was indeed a Piaggio P180 flying from Bremen to Glasgow and my leg is indeed still sore.

Heading home I met zoomer 3. Maybe they come in threes. She, it was definitely a She, was driving and she was in a hurry and she was taking no prisoners and she didn’t see cyclists, even ones with flashing red rear light on. If she’s been an inch or two closer she would have had a nasty scrape down her nearside door and I wouldn’t have had to worry about the bramble scratch on my legs. Luckily she didn’t make that move and I got home safe, but it was a very near miss, Miss.

“Zoomer – A person of an erratic or volatile disposition.”

PoD is a view from the JL bridge over the railway in Glasgow taken with the Samyang, the lens of the moment.

Tomorrow we have no plans. Nothing we need to get, nowhere we need to be. Let’s hope that it’s Zoomers Stay At Home Day.

An improving situation – 22 September 2018

Woke late this morning and Scamp seemed to be much better.

It was a decent looking morning with a bit of sunshine through the trees outside, so I thought it would be a good idea to go for a spin. A few possible destinations came to mind. Possibly Perth or Troon or Dunfermline. Dunfermline won, so we headed over the Forth to The Kingdom of Fife and its capital Dunfermline. Just managed to grab a space as a car came out of it in the carpark for Pittencrief Park and went for a walk through the lungs of the town. Pittencrief is a large open green space on the southern edge of the town. A great place for a walk on a bright autumn day.

The place was really busy and everyone had their phones out. In fact, some people had two phones, one in each hand. All the phone users were firmly fixed on a map app. I presume it was some sort of treasure hunt where you actually had to be in the vicinity of the clues to get further instructions to finding the treasure. We weren’t locals, so we didn’t take part, but it looked like a lot of Fun For Fifers. We didn’t get in to the glasshouse which is usually a great spot for photos, because for some reason it was closed today. Bummer. We usually come midweek and always on a day when it’s closed. Today I thought we were safe, coming on a Saturday, but somebody had grassed on us and they’d closed the glasshouse.

Walked back through the town and had coffee and a light lunch in a Nero, then drove home. When we got home, Scamp pronounced herself well enough to go and cut the front grass. She had just finished when the rain came on. Just before she was going to get the blower out and hurricane all the cut grass into the trees across the path. She stood watching out of the front window like an impatient child waiting for the rain to stop so that she could go and terrify the neighbourhood with the Big Orange Blowy Thing. The rain stopped and out she went to put that grass in its place. Such delight at such a simple thing.

Dinner tonight was curry from Bombay Dreams. Possibly the best Indian restaurant and take-away in Scotland, if not the world. We were circumspect tonight and only ate half, keeping the other half for tomorrow’s dinner.

PoD turned out to be three phone fanatics in Dunfermline today. One of those shots you take and just know that PoD is in the bag.

Tomorrow? If the weather holds, I think we might risk a walk down The Green with the possibility of cycling for me in the afternoon.

Where the crows fly backwards – 24 August 2018

In Kingston on Thames today on the bus.

Went to a Nero for a coffee. Seemed to confuse the poor server with “Sitting in. A regular one shot, extra hot latte and a regular americano.” She replied “To take away or to have here.” I growled, “Sitting in, that’s what I said.” Probably took her too far off the script. The bloke next to me said “I’m surprised she understood you with that accent.” Hackles up! “Sorry, I couldn’t understand you with yours”, I replied. He just laughed and asked where I came from. I gave Scamp’s non committal reply “Just outside Glasgow”. Then he told me he came originally from Motherwell, but moved down to London when he was 21. Went to work at IBM. “But,” he said, “I was a smart bugger then”. I questioned the ‘was’ and he just said that brain cells deteriorate with age, then went on to explain all the medical problems he’d survived, finishing up by saying that he had a 6 year old sitting outside. I said “Good for you!” and he just laughed and said “It only took a minute.” Both us burst out laughing. Then he took his tray outside, stopping to have a word with Scamp. When we were leaving, I tapped him on the shoulder and told him I originally came from Larkhall. “Oh my God.” he said “Where the crows fly backwards!” I don’t know when I last heard that one. Probably when I was at school. Wished him good day and he did the same then we went on our way.

Wandered round the town looking for a coffee shop that Neil had told us about where you could buy coffee beans. Finally gave up the search and went for a walk along the river on a breezy day with bright blue skies and a few white clouds overhead. Sat for a while and sketched a bit of the river and the boats moored by the path while Scamp remarked on the variety of boats on the river. Big boats, small boats, a wooden scull and a full paddle steamer. Finally gave up when I realised that the sketchbook wasn’t going to take the watercolour paint, it just sort of beaded on the surface.

Went for lunch in a wee cafe selling home made quiche and vegetarian food served with healthy looking salad. I had Salmon Quiche and Scamp had Veg Lasagne. Both of us tried each others, but both settled on our own as the better option. My side of Sweet Potato with Chilli and Kidney Beans was delicious. Walked on to Bentalls where Scamp found a set of four glasses to replace or augment ones we have at home. One of which is missing. I went to the Apple shop to try to find out how to get Apple Care, but I think it should be renamed Apple Doesn’t Care. They don’t seem to want to sell it, telling me that I’d have to bring my computer in to the store so the ‘experts’ could check it over first before they’ll allow me to give them money. No thank you Apple, that’s not how it works. It looks to me as if they are only interested in selling you Apple hardware and aren’t interested in after sales service.

We did eventually find the coffee shop, but neither of us were that impressed with their coffee and at £8.50 for 250g it was just a little over the top. Also over the top was the nearly £15 I paid for a G ’n’ T and a pint of IPA. Admittedly it was a double G, but £15 for two drinks? What is it with London prices. Blame Brexit.

Bus back to the house and Neil was on dinner duty, making Spicy Prawn Risotto. We have now got the recipe!! Pudding was Vienetta. Something we haven’t had for years. Watched another film, Victoria and Abdul which was quite funny.

Today’s PoD was taken under the bridge over the Thames. I just liked the patterns.

Tomorrow Neil is taking us somewhere if his viral infection is not too bad. Not sure where yet.

Dance Marathon – 15 August 2018

Today we managed Jive, Waltz, Quickstep, Tango and Salsa. In that order.

In Jive we worked the knots out of spins 1 to 6, then had a go at spin 7. We had been practising at home so it wasn’t too bad. Spins 1 to 6 are fairly well set in muscle memory now, it’s just remembering the order that I find difficult. However Michael’s little short descriptions keep me right. It’s a work in progress!
Waltz was similar in that we were neatening up our routine and trying to get round an entire circuit of the floor without bumping into people, but when other dancers just stop right in front of you to have a wee discussion about what went wrong with their last steps, it makes it difficult for you to get any continuity in your own dance.
Quickstep was a new one today. We only got the first few steps of this dance. To be continued next week.
Tango was going over the first three moves with the dramatic head turn Boom! Boom! (You had to be there to understand that!)
Salsa was in the evening but it was still a learning experience. I learned that I wasn’t dancing some of my steps correctly, or to be more exact, I wasn’t leading the moves correctly. Even although we are helpers at these lower level classes, there are always things to pick up on.
That made just over three hours of dancing and I still didn’t complete my 10,000 steps today. Why, I do not know.

Between the ballroom class and salsa, I managed to get the PoD of the “Right Said Fred” men (the song, not the group) forming a human ladder to lift scaffolding pieces into place on a building that was being renovated in the Merchant City.

Also, I shelled half our peas and used them in a Prawn and Pea Risotto. I even used the chopped up pods to strengthen the stock for the risotto. Apparently it passed muster with Scamp. I agreed, but then I would, wouldn’t I?

Tomorrow the physio and it’s forecast for rain all day.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for the party to begin – 10 August 2018

JIC, Sim and Steffi were coming today. It’s a long drive for them and a long wait for us.

After a morning spend tidying up, Dysoning, dusting and generally making the place spick and span, we headed out in the rain to Kirkintilloch for lunch at Calders garden centre. Lunch was fine, better than a lot of places we’ve been to recently and afterwards we had a walk round the plants while the rain thumped down on the roof of the covered area. We also ventured out in the rain to rove further into the plant area. I was impressed with the way the place was set out, with very few single species arrays beside other single species arrays. Instead, most of the displays were of mixed plants, different colours, different textures and varying heights. Now that’s a refreshingly different way to show off plants. Not so good if you’re searching for a specific plant, but if you want to see what plants complement others, it’s a great idea. Unfortunately, we weren’t looking for plants today. I was looking for a new coarse rose for the watering can, specifically one that could be used to water in the nematodes I’d received in the post this morning. We found lots of ornaments, cards, books, scarves, mottos and pictures, none of which I would have in the house and none of which would be at all good for watering in the nematodes. That’s the big problem with garden centres. The outdoor part may have plenty of plants, but the indoor section is jammed full of tat!

Came home in sunshine, roseless. Then Scamp offered an old watering can with a fairly coarse plastic rose. I decided it might just do and if it didn’t, I could drill out a few of the holes with the power drill. I was right for once. It was almost coarse enough, but after drilling out most of the holes with a power drill, it was fine for the job. Or should that be coarse for the job? With the nematodes now burrowing deep into the soil to find some tasty vine weevil grubs, my work was done for the day.

After a cup of tea I grabbed my camera and went in search of some photos in St Mo’s. Found Mr Grey close enough to photograph, some ‘beasties’ and also some Rudbeckia flowering in the wild garden that volunteers planted a couple of years ago. The Rudbeckia won PoD, just like it did last year!!

Finally at about 7pm the visitors arrived and we spent the rest of the evening eating, drinking and talking. Just really catching up. Scamp spent a short time showing off our garden front and back and we admired the veg that JIC and Sim had brought with them.

Tomorrow they go to Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument and we may go to Embra.

Flânerie – 9 August 2018

Flânerie: Aimless strolling or lounging; idleness.

Sounds about right. I got the bus in to Glasgow and go to see a photography exhibition Steven Berkoff: Gorbals 1966. It was a really interesting exhibition. All monochrome prints of the Gorbals and from a time when I was just starting to take an interest in photography. Also from a time when I started work. There was a picture of one bloke walking past a bar with a wild head of hair. It could almost have been me. I’d never set foot in the Gorbals, and he looked a few years older than me, but it could almost have been me.

On my way down from the bus station, I took some shots of buildings and stuff that I found interesting. That’s what’s good about going in yourself. You have time to take what you like, reject what you don’t and you don’t feel that you’re holding anyone back. No need to go shopping if you don’t want to (I didn’t want to today). Most of the shots I took were buildings, but I did stray into the Merchant City Festival area on the way back and grabbed some photos of the goings on there. PoD went to the shiny glass building on Queen Street, or to be more accurate, the reflections of clouds on that building. Every time I see it, I see something different.

With a few photos in the bag and the inspiration of those old photos I got the bus back. While I was waiting this big loud english girl came along pushing a pram and with another one in tow. Then her dim looking partner brought another one along. She sat down and the inevitable phone came out. Then she started swearing at the phone about some “stupid fu$*in’ bitch” who had sent her an offensive message on Facebook and then immediately blocked her and how she couldn’t then tell her exactly what she thought of her. The noise level got really high and then the kids started crying, but she didn’t attempt to tone it down or pacify the kids. She just kept ranting on. Poor bloke, I thought. We’ve only got to put up with that for ten minutes, he’s got the rest of his life to face that. Luckily they stayed downstairs while I got upstairs and into the front seat so I could drive!

Scamp was working in the garden when I got home. We lifted the small pot of potatoes and only got 370g which was well down on the first lot. We think the problem was that the plants were too dry. Still, they tasted fine in Scamp’s Chicken with Rats and potatoes.

Tomorrow is to be much like today, dry and partly sunny. We may go out somewhere in the afternoon.

What a Gay day – 14 July 2018

Today we were going to Glasgow on the bus to watch the Glasgow Pride procession.

We decided to be extra lazy today and get the X3 in. That mean the least amount of walking for me. Had the traditional coffee in Nero with a shared apricot croissant to give us the extra burst of energy to fortify us for our walk around the streets. When we left Buchanan Galleries I spotted a neat bit of graffiti on the billboard for Victoria’s Secret. Well, the secret is now out Victoria. You just want us to “Buy ‘Hings” which translates to Buy Things for those of you living outside Glasgow.

With a photo in the bag, I could relax a bit and we walked down to Argyle Street – me to go to Millers Art Shop and Scamp to go to Next. Neither of us parted with our hard earned money and we met up again. As well as going to Millers, I’d also enquired of some multicoloured rainbow people where exactly the parade would be starting from and was a bit concerned when they told me they didn’t know. Hmm, this didn’t sound good. However, we needn’t have worried, the police van with blue lights flashing and the balloon truck behind at the far end of Argyle Street was a dead give-away.

The parade was a lot bigger this year, with an estimated 12,000 walkers, paraders, weirdos and general hangers-on. Right at the front was Nick the Chick (AKA Sturgeon). Scamp said Nick smiled at her. If she’d smiled at me I wouldn’t have been broadcasting that snippet of news. We watched it all from start to finish. Just about 45 minutes of lunacy, but good humoured and colourful lunacy. Contrast that with the Orange Walk last week which is also lunacy and colourful lunacy, but hardly good humoured. As well as the PoD there are some photos on Flickr of the procession and some of the characters, therein.  In total I took 361 shots today.  Most of them were taken in ‘motordrive mode’, where you just keep the shutter button pressed and hope for the best.  It works most of the time.  I’ve whittled those 361 down to 60 usable shots of which 5 made it to Flickr today.  Maybe I’ll post some more in the coming week, all being well.

After I bought a couple of watercolour paints, we went to Zizzi for lunch and were both disappointed with the quality of the food, but the two glasses of wine we had were lovely, although each of us preferred our own different choice of wine. Maybe it’s because it was white wine we were drinking instead of our traditional red, but we both agreed they were refreshing. Contrast that with two insipid pasta dishes. Oh well, a lesson learned. Should have gone to Sarti’s much better to go to a small restaurant than a chain.

Just managed get seated on the X3 going home when the bus left the stance. Good timing for once. Sat in the garden when we got back. Scamp finished off the remainder of a bottle of red we’d opened the other night and I had a bottle of cider. It was comfortably warm with a nice welcome breeze. Looks like there will be a fair amount of rain tomorrow. At last.

Don’t expect we’ll be going far tomorrow, but we’ll wait and see.

Dancing the night away – 30 June 2018

Today was the last sea day of the cruise.

It was also the last full day of the cruise and the last art class and the last salsa class. Art class was a challenging painting of two strawberries. Not real ones, but a painting from a photo as all the previous ones had been. For this last class both morning and afternoon groups were joined because there was to be an exhibition of work in the afternoon. Easa’s technique is totally different from anything I’ve used before. He works in a very detailed way. As an example, after sketching the shape of the two strawberries, our first task was to draw the individual seeds. Have you ever stopped to count the number of strawberry seeds are going into your mouth? I bet you haven’t. People laugh at me because I crunch my way through all an apple apart from the stalk. “You’ll have an apple tree growing in your stomach” I’ve heard folk say. That may be so, but do you spit out all those strawberry pips too? After painting in the seeds we had to then paint round them, not all the way round all of them because he wanted some white paper left for highlights. Then we added dark red for the shadow areas and a bit of green for the leaves. When it was finished I was quite pleased with the effect. I’m glad I was in the small morning group. I couldn’t have done with all the preening that went on from some of the afternoon group.

After lunch we joined the salsa group, but only for half a class for me because I had to go set up my paintings. Afterwards, I met back up with Scamp as the salsa class finished. We didn’t go for a swim today because the thought of packing wet swim suits was just too much. Instead we started packing, well, I started packing as Scamp had already started while I was counting strawberry seeds. It’s a sad task, packing after fourteen days, but it has to be done.

Dinner tonight was with a mixed bunch. Grumpy old woman, young couple and an older couple who were ok. The girl from the young couple was full of her own self importance. She was working for Charles Hanson the auctioneer and antiques expert. It appeared that some of his expertise had rubbed off on her as she knew everything about antiques too. Some folk just love to blow their own trumpet. I reckoned the old grumpy woman was her mother. If she was, then pity the poor bloke who married the daughter. Nothing was good enough for this battleaxe.

After dinner we went to the Tamarind club where there was to be a Salsa Hoedown with both the line dancers and the salsa dancers taking part with the whole thing being supervised by the Headliners theatre group. It was great fun. I didn’t do any of the line dancing, I forgot my cowboy hat, but I enjoyed the salsa. Scamp, of course took part in everything. It was a great end to the cruise and one that will stay in my memory.

Tomorrow we depart for our ten hour trip home.